Creature feature fans will know that, more often than not, the promise of a brand new film to drool over is tinged with the anxiety of knowing it’s probably going to turn out to be a load of CGI twaddle. There’s a place for Sharknado, but it doesn’t compare to Deep Blue Sea. Besides, when was the last time a creature feature was actually scary?
Boar, the fourth feature from Aussie writer-director Chris Sun, attempts to correct this problem with the titular creature, a massive, insatiable pig monster, stalking the countryside. First introduced in a nifty opening sequence involving a dark country road and a squabbling couple, the lumbering beast makes himself known pretty early on.
Echoing Jurassic Park with the frightened scattering of smaller beasties as it approaches, creature and SFX designer Steve Boyle establishes immediately that his boar is a force to be reckoned with. For most of the movie, Boyle smartly gives us short, scary glimpses at the thing’s teeth, jaw, or head. Scale is well-established (something recent Jason Statham flick The Meg [read our review] struggled with and the beast’s got a helluva growl, which further showcases his scare appeal.
Related: Not Quite Horror: Jurassic Park
Jones fares even better as the clear hero of the piece (though an opportunity to Suplex the boar sadly goes to waste). He looks big, huge enough to tussle with the creature but not too massive that we’re left questioning how he can even wear a shirt (like John Cena in Trainwreck, or The Rock in pretty much everything).
Unsurprisingly for an ex-wrestler, Jones is a pretty decent actor too, selling the peril he and his family are in without ever hamming it up. Although there are three tough ladies (of varying age groups, too!) tasked with confronting the titular beast in the big finale, it’s cool to see Jones fighting alongside them. The kid in the Alkaline Trio tee (thankfully, it’s not commented on, unlike in The Bye Bye Man (read our review), where a band shirt was a plot point), on the other hand, not so much.
It’s also great to see a heavily tattooed person onscreen, even if he too doesn’t survive particularly long. The body count in Boar is reasonably high, which is always nice in a film of this nature. Anybody could perish at any moment and, although the sense of place isn’t great, and the dialogue is a little clunky, most of the main characters are likeable and developed. Or annoying enough to hope for their quick and bloody demise.
This isn’t your typical Aussie horror, of course, because it doesn’t involve sexual assault (though Wolf Creek star and accused rapist John Jarratt does star) or almost dying of thirst in the Outback while clutching your mates’ hands in a moment of gay panic (yes, The Inbetweeners 2 is a horror movie). It could just as easily have been called Land Shark (copyright: me) and achieved the same effect, since the SFX are only decent when the boar isn’t moving.
The beast looks good and its tactility is impressive, but the filmmakers cannot animate it running or moving at all and a final sprint towards the camera ends up funny rather than scary. Maybe Kevin Smith will figure out how to do it for Moose Jaws (I think he’s gon’ sue somebody for this), who knows? For now, Boar is mostly good fun, but, as with far too many creature freatures, it ultimately falls flat once the creature is revealed in all its CG non-glory.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Chris Sun
Writer(s): Chris Sun, Kirsty Dallas
Stars: Nathan Jones, Bill Moseley, John Jarratt, Ricci Guarnaccio
Release date: TBC
Studio/ Production Co: Slaughter FX
Length: 96 minutes
Sub-Genre: Creature feature